Tag Archive | Disneyland

Run at Disneyland—it’s for the Children!

As most of my lovely readers know by now, this blogging adventure began all thanks to the Disneyland Half Marathon. It was my first half marathon and the endeavor spurred the creation of my first blog. The blog bug bit hard and I haven’t stopped writing since. You might say that this whole blogging thing reignited my love of writing in general, which has led to my pursuit of writing children’s literature, which will lead to the many books I am one day bound to publish. (Bound to publish! That’s pretty good). I guess you could say, therefore, the Disneyland Half Marathon is responsible for all of my dreams coming true. The race—it’s that good.

It’s that time of year, we are registered for the 2016 half marathon and getting ready to plan out our training schedule. This year’s costumes involve a mandatory 20 lb trim down, so the stakes are high! More on that later.

If you are considering registering for the half marathon or Dumbo Double Dare (miraculously they are not yet sold out), you might consider putting your registration money to a worthy cause instead of in the pocket of runDisney. If you would like to run the 5k or 10k, they ARE in fact sold out, but you can still sign up another way!

Several charity groups participate in the Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. I was recently contacted by the Children’s Bureau to help promote their team, and as soon as I read about their mission it took me about two seconds to say yes. Children’s Bureau helps children lead happy, healthy, productive lives through a combination of prevention, treatment, research and advocacy. Children’s Bureau is committed to providing vulnerable children—especially in the early years—the foundation necessary to become caring and productive adults by:

  • Preventing child abuse and neglect both at home and in the community;
  • Protecting, nurturing and treating abused children;
  • Enhancing the potential of families and communities to meet the needs of their children by bringing them together to create safe and secure environments;
  • Advancing the welfare of children and families through superior programs in foster care, adoptions, child development, parent education, mental health, research and advocacy.

There is a small fundraising obligation, but trust me, as someone who has raised money through running events several times, it’s easier than you might imagine. Especially if this is one of your first forays into running—your friends and family will be eager to support you knowing that you are running not only for yourself, but for a worthy cause.

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It will make your training easier. A 10 mile training run can be hard. A 10 mile training run in honor of a child in need is exponentially easier. Also, a big full generous heart pumps more blood to your tired muscles. True story.

To join Team all4kids just click on over to the Children’s Bureau website. Like I said, the 5k and 10k are both sold out through runDisney so an opportunity like this may be your only chance to participate in one of these incredible race events. Just look how the Disneyland Half Marathon changed my life. It can change yours, with the added bonus of changing the lives of children in need.

I know the fundraising component can feel daunting. If you sign up with this team be sure to comment and let me know so I can help promote your fundraising efforts. I will even make a donation to the first three readers to join the Children’s Bureau team! Run for change. Run for the kids.

Happy running!

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Rapunzel and Flynn Rider Run a Half Marathon (VIDEO!)

Hi friends!

My husband aka personal videographer extraordinaire just finished our recap video for the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon. Scroll down to the bottom if you just want to watch the video and don’t want to read my rambling.

To sum up, I think this may have been the best race yet. Here are 8 things that I absolutely loved about this year’s Disneyland Half.

  1. The weather! After last year’s humid nightmare I was praying for relief this time around. The uncharacteristic humidity we experienced in the weeks leading up to the race had me so nervous. Mother Nature pulled through. The morning was pleasantly overcast (which is a runner’s dream), not too hot, not too cold, and just a teeeensy bit of humidity to make sweating actually feel good.
  2. Roomy corrals. I don’t know this for certain, but I feel that they must have added more corrals this year and designated less people in each. The past couple of years our corral has been so overcrowded (probably largely due to earlier corral starters moving back to run with friends which is allowed but makes the back corrals overstuffed), that we actually got bumped into a later corral. No runner likes that. You want to start as close to the A, B, C world as possible. This year we had plenty of room and no bumpage.
  3. Plenty of water. Last year was the first time ever that the course ran out of water at some stops. I blame the insane heat and humidity but it left me woefully unprepared and dehydrated. Super bummer.This year runDisney obviously stocked up. No lack of water on the course for me.
  4. Our costumes! My favorite ever. I simply love Rapunzel, and Flynn Rider is definitely the swooniest Disney dude since Prince Eric. Perfect for a pair of running newlyweds. Plus, thanks to Rapunzel, I developed a new item for Whimsy Do. Flower braid-in extensions.
  5. New race shirts. FINALLY runDisney created gender specific (in cut only, not style) race shirts for the Disneyland Half. The new shirt fit like a dream, and the color is super cute. Love it.
  6. Our first race as a married couple. Enough said 🙂
  7. This marked my 10th half marathon. How did that happen!
  8. Fancy dinner. The day after the race Brad and I spent our requisite day of celebration in the parks. Since this year marks something special, I thought it was finally time we checked out Carthay Circle. So elegant. So delicious.

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magic recovery drink aka chocolate milkshake from Denny's

magic recovery drink aka chocolate milkshake from Denny’s

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In the park

Loved Rapunzel so much I did a little Disneybounding in the park the next day. I wore my flower braid-ins...

Loved Rapunzel so much I did a little Disneybounding in the park the next day. I wore my flower braid-ins…

... and brought Pascal along for the ride.

… and brought Pascal along for the ride.

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Pretty darn excited to get this button at City Hall

Pretty darn excited to get this button at City Hall

And then of course there were a few downsides.

  1. No cheerleaders. This was the first year ever that my Mom and Dennis weren’t able to make it down for the race. They are always there to cheer us on, and they usually run one of the events themselves, but due to scheduling it just didn’t happen this year. We really missed them but they cheered from afar.
  2. No Disneyland dream pool. For three of the years we’ve run this event we splurged on stays at Disneyland resort hotels. We’ve now stayed at all three, once each. My favorite hotel is the Grand Californian for its rustic beauty, but the Disneyland Hotel Pool has everyone beat. It’s an absolute dream. Huge, festive, and has a truly thrilling waterslide. Not to mention the proximity to Trader Sam’s and all the tiki drinks you could ever want. It’s the best and I missed it. This year Brad and I stayed off property. Pool was sub-par, and no tiki drinks. Though we did have an amazing two-bedroom suite with a full kitchen.
  3. Foot pain. I’ve been running for a while in Newtons. While I love them for anything up to 6 miles, I learned through this race that any mileage over 6 my feet can’t seem to take. Around mile 7 I developed serious shooting pain in my left metatarsal. I was actually concerned I may have a fracture. Of course I ran through it, like ya do, and the pain ebbed for a while. At mile 11 it hit me again to the point I actually had to walk. That definitely threw off my flow for the last three miles. I had been on track for a PR before that happened :(. There’s always something to keep that elusive PR just out of reach. I guess it was an educational moment. I now know that I’m going to need a bit more shoe for the marathon. Did someone say more shoes? Ok if I must.

Those are the only negative points I can think of and they weren’t super biggies. Everything was pretty much just incredibly fun, celebratory, and relaxing as usual. Once again I’m left looking forward to Disneyland Half Marathon 2015. But first, we have to get through the WDW Marathon. *Gulp*

What you’ve been waiting for: VIDEO!

10 Reasons to Run a Half Marathon

I didn’t realize this until my husband pointed it out to me a couple of weeks ago, but the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon marked my 10th half marathon completed. I can’t believe it! I ran my first 13.1 miles at the 2010 Disneyland Half. How fitting that my 10th be at the same event. Full circle. Warm and fuzzies. MILEstone.

Rapunzel

 

In honor of my 10th half marathon-iversary, I thought I’d pay homage to the distance. It’s a great race. I started to think about why I love it so much and as I brainstormed it occurred to me to loop other folks in on the discussion. I’m a member of a fantastic Disney nerd running group on Facebook called Team #runDisney. It’s an amazingly supportive and enthusiastic group of runners. From novices to elites, everyone in this group comes together to share the love of our sport. So who better to answer the question, why do you run the half marathon, than my brothers and sisters in arms (or legs) over at Team #runDisney. The following is a mash-up of their answers as well as my own. I give you:

10 reasons to run a Half Marathon.

  1. Accountability
    • It’s all well and good to say you’re going to run 20 miles a week (or whatever), but let’s be serious, you won’t. You’ll get home from work and you’ll feel all tired and sludgy and give in to the couch calling out to you. Couch says “Hey you, yeah you whose derriere I love so much when it snuggles up on me with a glass of wine and a bag of hot Cheetos. Come put your feet up and watch the new episode of Scandal. It’s far too late and that wine is far too delicious. No need to run today.” That’s what the couch says. You can’t listen. You need something to pull you away. Sign up for a half marathon. Paying that kind of money to run a race will keep you motivated to keep going, keep training. Seeing that countdown widget on your phone everyday will remind you of what you promised yourself. Accountability. Plus, I just used wine and hot Cheetos in the same sentence. God help me.
  2. All about the bling
    • Yes I realize it’s just a cheap piece of metal made for 10 cents somewhere over seas probably by an exploited labor force. But man, I can’t help it, I love my medals. How many instances in life do you get a well-deserved medal placed around your neck for something you accomplished. There’s a reason there’s an established saying “they should give me a medal ” when you bust your butt for something. In this case, they will!
  3. Set an example
    • Whether it’s your kids, students, nieces, spouse, or co-workers, you have the incredible opportunity to set an example for someone around you. At a time when the dangers of obesity are finally starting to sink in, we’re all having healthier discussions about body image, and nutrition often takes center stage in the national debate, thank God that it seems like the world may be getting healthier. Maybe? Hopefully? The truth is we don’t know if all these studies and articles and dialogues are actually doing anything. What I do know is that I’ve had at least three people tell Brad or I directly that our running habit inspired them to get active again. That’s amazing. If something I’ve done changes one person’s life for the better, worth it. Actions speak so much louder than words (coming from the girl who writes a BLOG! *facepalm*).
  4. Raise Money/Awareness
    1. Runners raise a shit-ton of money. Millions of dollars every year. In doing so they take the opportunity to educate their friends and families about causes that matter to them. They provide living proof that positive change begins with doing something for yourself but it can’t END there. Change must be paid forward. One of my favorite examples of this phenomenon is Sean Astin’s #run3rd campaign. It sums up the philosophy perfectly. Run 1st for myself. Run 2nd for my family. Run 3rd for YOU. Of course “You” being an embodiment of whatever dedication compels you forward; be it a cause, a loved one, a memory, a statement. Give it away, be a part of something bigger. Make effort meaningful. Running does these things. Cool, huh?
  5. FOOD
    • With a capital F! Ok people, I’m not saying you should gorge yourself or anything. That would totally undermine the point I made above about setting a healthy example. But I’m not gonna lie, food tastes waaaay better after you just ran 13.1 miles and know that every single calorie has already been burned off. Most of the time of course you should be healthy and mindful of what you put in your body. Well, actually, all the time. Yes we should be mindful of that all the time. You should see how mindfully I down a chocolate milkshake and stack of buttermilk pancakes with a side of hash browns after I run a half marathon. In all honestly, I’m telling you, when you run consistently you just don’t have to stress about food as much. I never used to be able to eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight just thinking about a few extra calories. Since I’ve been running really consistently I don’t think about it, and I don’t gain. Admittedly, I haven’t lost weight either, but I’m ok with that. The relief of going to the grocery store and just buying what my cravings tell me to buy is so freeing. (News flash, when you get out of diet mode and listen to real cravings, you’ll probably crave healthy foods like fruits, veggies, and protein. True story). But let me repeat my main point, eating WHATEVER you want after you just ran a half marathon is a gift from above.
  6. Fits into your busy schedule
    • Brad and I just started training this week for the Walt Disney World Marathon. I have to admit, looking at the training calendar I can tell that from here until January running is going to dominate our weekends. Once we get over 14 mile runs, you’re talking about carving out at least 3 hours of straight running every Saturday. That’s *just* the running. That doesn’t include warm-up time, cool-down time, and recovery time. Running over 14 miles is going to knock us out the rest of the day, and we’ll be doing it about 10 weekends in a row. Bye bye social life! Don’t get me wrong, I’m so excited for the challenge and am committed to making a social sacrifice to get ready for Disney World come January, but let me tell you the great thing about a half marathon. It’s challenging, quite challenging, requires a good amount of training and consistency, but is not SO challenging that it dominates your life. You can train for a half marathon without neglecting your family, and while maintaining a social life. And at the end of it all you’ll still feel so accomplished after running that race! It’s the perfect distance for we amateur athletes who still want lives.
  7.  Runcations
    • Running a half marathon can provide great incentive to travel. It might be hard to convince your spouse to fly across the country for a 5k or even a 10k. The half marathon is that magic distance. Your family will be so impressed by your effort and dedication to the challenge, they will readily jump on board to fly to Boston so you can run the inaugural Heartbreak Hill Half Marathon. Tempt them with a Duck Tour and lobster rolls and you’ll start to see that half marathons can be the markers on your traveler’s map. And you won’t be SO beaten up after 13.1 miles that you won’t have any steam left to enjoy your surroundings. A marathon could put you out of commission. A half marathon will leave you feeling celebratory and revitalized with some extra calories to spare (see point #5). Half Marathons have taken Brad and I to Monterey, Big Sur, San Diego, and of course Disneyland!
  8.  Camaraderie
    • I’ve always gravitated more toward solitary sports than teams. Does that make me a creeper who doesn’t like people? I don’t think so. It’s just that team sports give me so much anxiety. Too much pressure!. However tennis, swimming, cycling, running. I can get behind all of these. The funny thing is I feel more supported by my fellow runners of the world than I ever did on a team played in school. Perhaps because we don’t compete against each other, we compete against ourselves (talking about non-elites of course). I run to beat my own time, not someone else’s. I don’t disappoint anyone if I can’t finish a race. No runner (me) has panic attacks about letting the team down. This leaves 100% room for positive camaraderie with my fellow runners and no where is that more apparent than at a half marathon. Thousands of eager athletes willing each other to succeed. I want them all to succeed so bad! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried hearing the stories of what my running friends have overcome in their journeys. We share tips with each other, we swap horror stories, we salute new PRs and we comfort epic disappointments. Seems like almost every major thread I read on Facebook is chalk full of dissent, argument, and trolls, except for my running groups. They are a virtual haven. In my running groups I can’t say I’ve ever come across a single troll. I may extol the virtues of the solitary athlete, but I’m not-so-secretly dependent on my “team.”
  9. Running is cheaper than therapy
    • There are many ways to maintain positive mental health; and running does it for me. The half marathons that I run every year keep an attainable but challenging carrot dangling out in front of me. I have something to look forward to which is always good for joy-making, and running after that carrot gets all kinds of fancy endorphins pumping through my blood and brain. Training will give you built-in “me time.” It will clear your head. It will help you manage stress. Half marathon training is honestly the best prescription for mental stability I’ve ever undertaken. Half marathon = happiness.
  10. Dreamcatching
    • Admit it, someone at some point in your life has made you feel incapable and bad. Whether that person was a bully, a pesky relative, or yourself. Someone made you think you couldn’t do things like run 13.1 miles. Oh the satisfaction of proving someone wrong. Run a half marathon because someone at some point told you that you couldn’t. Run a half marathon because you need tangible proof that any dream is catchable.

 

To finish, I want to share some quotes from the Team #runDisney thread that inspired me to write this, and continues to inspire me keep on runnin’. (Please apply (sic) to all typos, these comments came from the grammar vacuum known as Facebook). I hope you can feel the inspiration oozing from your computer screen, onto your desk, and down into your feet! These people have overcome and accomplished some amazing things. If they can do it, so can YOU!

I love running with people who are running their first half marathons and getting to share the experience of something I really love. It’s amazing to see all the emotions they go through and to be that voice of confidence and encouragement.

I run because I was told I couldn’t. And 8 years later, when I ended up in a wheelchair, I switched to a racing chair because running had become part of who I am. And it’s taught me way too many things to list…

Running ten miles on a Saturday morning means nachos for lunch don’t count!!

I had a stroke about 6 years ago and I run because I can and I know it’s a luxury!

Easier than a marathon and more challenging than a 10K. Just the right distance and I always feel accomplished at the end.

Because people look at me and say, you don’t look like a runner……

I run all distances for fun… 5Ks and 10Ks I want to go fast. Fulls require focus… With the Half, I can be a bit more casual and enjoy the race from start to finish.

Sometimes I don’t have a lot of control of many things in my life -but I always have control of me. It empowers me to stay strong through uncertain times.

I signed up for my first time last year because I can’t seem to accomplish my personal goal at work and needed to know that nothing could hold me back from what I wanted to do if there was no one in my way….

To raise money for a local charity and in honor of a friend who used to run marathons but died of brain cancer two years ago.

I took 20 years off of Running. Last year my son started Kindergarten. I wanted to set an example of exercise. I started with the Rock N Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas last November. When November rolls around the weekend of the Disney Avenger Race I will have run 9 half marathons in a year’s time. If someone told me last August that I would have run 9 Half Marathons I would have said they were crazy. Yet 5 down, 1 this weekend, then 3 to go!!!

Most of my life I have been a big guy, a couple years ago lost over 100 pounds. I remember how excited I was when I ran my first mile without stopping for the first time in my life. This will be my 2nd half marathon. I don’t run because I can, I run because all my life I couldn’t.

I started running three and a half years ago after my son passed away following a car accident. That’s why I run to honor (him). He was a country runner and rugby player in high school and we had planned to someday do a half marathon together. I’ve done many half marathons and I have three or four more planned in the next 6 months. I run to feel close to and honor him. That’s why I run.

I find a different kind of fulfillment when I run halfs. It’s changed me inside letting me know I am strong and (can) accomplish anything!

I had a rough childhood, survived a relationship that could have ended my life, and emotional struggles from it all.  My boys don’t know all this from my past, but I want them to know that strength comes in many forms. Maybe getting that medal is physical validation of what I conquered internally. I also love that I can have them see me run and we can have a family vacation together at our favorite place on the planet. Double bonus!

I started running a few years ago. Did the Disney World 5K at Animal Kingdom and it was amazing!! I cried at the end!! Jumped straight to Half Marathon and was hooked… still cry at the finish!! LOL

For the amazing feeling you get when you finish the race. That natural high lasts for days and carries over into your normal everyday life!

Why you ask… “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… We must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

 

 

 

Dear Tinker Bell, I’m Just Not Feeling It

Last month I ran the Tinker Bell Half Marathon to kick off the 2014 race schedule. I pretty much had a terrible time. I mean it’s Disneyland and Neverland and family fun times so all of the elements of fun were there but when it comes to the running, I had a terrible time. Due to circumstances sort of beyond my control I got a total of 6 hours of sleep in the two nights leading up to the race. That’s 3 hours of sleep the night before a half marathon. I don’t recommend it.

I love waking up with Brad on a race day. While making coffee, Brad makes jokes about how painfully early it is and I flit around the hotel room like a demented fairy, getting nervous for the impending 13 miles ahead. But this morning I just felt tired. SO tired. Deliriously tired. It was difficult to flit around. Pixie dust meter on empty. The thing about waking up at 3:30 am to run a half marathon is that no matter what time you went to bed the night before, you’re always going to be tired. Looking at your alarm clock at 3:30 am will always make you very very sleepy. So on this particular morning I didn’t register that I was more tired than usual. I just felt a malaise. The thought that entered my head was “I’m not really feeling it.” That thought is kryptonite to someone who’s about to run a half marathon. You have to, at the very least, feel it.

We got dressed. I decked out as Smee and Brad my Crocodile (the hat for the Croc being the culprit for my staying up until midnight. Stupid Krazy Glue!)

smee

Stumbling out of our hotel room at approximately 4:15 we make our way to the starting line. The energy surrounding me is as per usual for a runDisney event. Electric. Thousands of runners surround me, many seemingly first time half marathoners. I’m excited. I am. A detached sort of excited. I register my detachment and try to brush it off. This is exciting! It is! Next to us I see a runner dressed as Rufio from Hook. How awesome is that?

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The coolest!

5:00 am approaches. The national anthem is sung. The singing of the national anthem usually brings a tear to my eye. This morning it does not. Fireworks ignite the air. The announcers inspire. All of the elements of a fantastic runDisney morning are there and all I can do is continue to suppress the little minion in my head repeating the mantra “I’m just not feeling it.”

Ever feel like you’re in a fog? Like you’re going through the motions of your life, surrounded by things that should make you happy yet they fall upon numbness? Like you have a front row seat to observe your life from the outside? Inside you feel, just, nothing? I’m fortunate that I’ve never been seriously or clinically depressed, but I’m told the sensation is similar. If that is in fact the case then I can tell you that running 13 miles through Disneyland at 5:00 in the morning on 3 hours of sleep is much the same as being clinically depressed. Add to the mix some guilt. Guilt for not being happy at a runDisney race (it feels like sacrilege). Guilt that I paid so much money to run an event that “I’m just not feeling.” Guilt that I coerced Brad into running the same event. Though luckily Brad looks pretty happy. Brad appears to be having a good run. Phew!

Around mile 6, about the time when I’m just wishing the whole damn thing would be over, I start to panic. Am I falling out of love with running? Am I falling out of love with Disney? Are runDisney and I going to have to break up??? No!! Sheer panic. Why do I feel so terrible? Why isn’t Tinker Bell making me happy? What is this malaise? Why am I not feeling it? I still had not put 2 and 2 together that 3 hours of sleep the night before miiiiight contribute to my lack of excitement.

Brad runs with gusto. He is, as I said, having a great race and clips along at a good pace. I can’t hold him back in my fog. He takes off around mile 9 and continues on to have a fantastic final 4 miles. I just try to make it through.

There is one characteristic emotion of mine that can’t seem to be anesthetized, no matter my state of exhaustion or malaise, and that is my lovely stubbornness. Even though I’m tired and struggling and should really just take it easy if I ever want to enjoy running again, for some reason I decide that I want to finish in under 3 hours. I push it hard the last few miles to ensure that will happen and I cross the finish line feeling, for the first time, pretty damn good. What I soon discover is that since I hadn’t really been feeling anything the entire race, not excitement or joy or determination, I mistook these final emotions (extreme pain) as “pretty damn good.” I suppose I was just relieved to be feeling anything. Since a popular runner’s motto is “my sport is your sport’s punishment” let’s just say it’s not uncommon for a runner to mistake pain for pleasure.

I cross the finish line, find Brad, take our picture, get some water, and feel relieved the race is done. About 10 minutes later I feel everything a runner dreads. Nausea, extreme exhaustion, dizziness, chills, irritability. Damnit. My stubbornness caught up with me. Lactic acid comes rushing in.

Somehow I make it through to the other side of this episode. We find Mom and Dennis and head to Denny’s for breakfast. The thought of food makes me feel like I want to die whilst vomiting, but Mom insists that it will make me feel better. I suspect she’s right so I go with them to Denny’s even though all I really want to do is collapse. Mom orders me a chocolate milkshake and you know what, it was like magic. That magic guilt-free chocolate milkshake I downed at 8:00 in the morning perked me up and settled my tummy. Ice Cream really is the answer to everything. Best chocolate milkshake ever.

After breakfast we walk back to the hotel for a much needed nap, and now that my brain feels a bit more attached to my head I can start to think clearly again. I start to ask questions. Why does this happen to me? Why is it that sometimes I have a great race and sometimes I feel like shit? It can’t just be training. I’m actually pretty well trained for this race. Why does lactic acid seem to attack me only on some runs, and takes pity on me others?

By this point I’d gotten smart and realized that sleep deprivation no doubt played a major role in my malaise. After the milkshake cleared my head I had a light bulb moment and said “Ooohhh. THAT’S why I wasn’t feeling it.” Amazing it took me that long to figure out. I took this as a comfort, knowing that it’s something I can control. Next time I’ll just get more sleep. But this lactic acid question lingered and bothered me. I don’t feel as though I have control over its presence in my running. It seems to rear its ugly head when it wants to, other times a sleeping dragon. After our nap I set out to do some research on this evil foe. I want to understand how lactic acid really works in the body. Why in the world does our body produce anything that would make us feel so terrible right at the time when we need our body to work FOR us, not against us? The answers I found astounded me.

I discovered that lactic acid is actually meant to work for you, you just have to know how to use it. Mind blown. Suddenly I feel like if I can understand this villain of mine, perhaps we can be allies. It’s just as Honest Abe Lincoln once said, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” Lactic acid and I are about to become bffs.

I’ll impart my research on lactic acid at a later date. Before you roll your eyes, I promise that it’s interesting! I’ve got more studying to do however before I can write a worthy article. As far as Tinker Bell Half Marathon 2014 goes, I found myself in a foggy runner’s malaise and turned it into a teachable moment. And that’s why I run. Because although I briefly panicked that running and I were falling out of love, the great thing about a healthy relationship is that you can always work it out. Running and I, we’re working it out. We’re learning about each other.

Sunday afternoon I went for a breathtaking 5 mile run on the beach. I pushed myself. I philosophized. I worked through some mental cobwebs that had been bugging me. I felt centered. I felt grateful for my feet.

Running and I. We’re rekindling the flame.

Happy moments on the course

Happy moments on the course. A couple of people thought Brad was a dinosaur or an alien shark. This amused me.

If 14,000 excited runners can't get you in the mood, you're in for a long run.

If 14,000 excited runners can’t get you in the mood, you’re in for a long run.

rekindling the romance

a long walk run on the beach is just the ticket for rekindling the romance

Couple a Dumbos! Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend (Video)

My fiance made such a great recap video of this year’s Disneyland Half Marathon festivities, I feel that I don’t need to say much in a recap post. I’ll just post the video for now and follow up later with a narrative recap for anyone who is interested. I do actually have a couple of criticisms of this year’s event (gasp!) but mostly they involve the weather. My beef is with Mother Nature. Girl, what was with that humidity!? All in all runDisney put on another wonderful weekend celebrating running, accomplishing your goals, health, and of course Disney!

I think this is the best video of the event Brad has ever put together. Good job honey! Enjoy!

sweating in the summer heat wearing a silly costume

You thought I was talking about Burning Man didn’t you? Nope. Not quite.

The Burning Man Festival took place just a couple of weeks ago.  I first heard of Burning Man 6 years ago. I was doing a summer Shakespeare festival in Los Angeles and a fellow actor in the play was talking about how he was saving his money to go to Burning Man. What is Burning Man? I asked. His response set the tone. He just kept going on and on about how he couldn’t describe it. About how it was something he couldn’t put into words. This of course intrigued me even more. I managed to extrapolate only a few details from him; it was in the desert, it involved trade instead of cash, it was a little temporary city, sometimes there were drugs involved. Really not much to go off of, but the seeds of mystery were planted. I’ll admit, from his sparse and mysterious description it sure sounded a lot like a drug-addled cult of hippies hiding out in the desert for a week. His enthusiasm and reverence in talking about the festival gave me pause however, and I withheld my judgement and allowed myself to be intrigued. Burning Man. Huh.

In the past 6 years since that summer social media has changed our world. Now I don’t have to ask my friend’s what some rising event in pop culture is, I just have to log-on to Facebook. Over the past few years it’s come into clearer view. Burning Man. In the desert, yes. Looks like camping is involved. Fun. Lots of people in silly costumes. Dig it. Late night dancing, communal feasting, riding of bicycles, and art. This all looked more and more intriguing to me but there was still a piece missing. I still didn’t “get it.” I mean I saw the details. I saw the whats, but I guess what I still didn’t understand were the whys. How is this different from any other art festival. How is it different from camping with a bunch of friends? I put the question out to the Facebook universe. What is this Burning Man, in seven words or less. Responses: celebration of art, adult camping, epic communing experience, music, dirt, sweat, high hippie hipsters. Ok. All of those things I had pretty much pieced together, but there was one response that really started to get the message across. What is Burning Man? Freedom.

Interesting.

That I get. That one little word started to gel all of the details together and make me realize why Burning Man was different from a week of camping with your buddies, playing music, and smoking pot. Freedom. Now that is something we all need.

I was curious enough at this point to consider that I might want to attend myself one day. See what all the fuss is about. I looked up the details and immediately realized that was never going to happen. I would never attend Burning Man. The festival is always the week prior to and weekend including Labor Day. There is another event that is the same weekend every year. The Disneyland Half Marathon. This realization bummed me out for about 10 seconds, and then I got over it. Not because I’m not curious. I genuinely am. But because The Disneyland Half Marathon is my Burning Man.

I can hear all of the loyal Burning Man enthusiasts scoffing at their computer screens. Disneyland? Really? In fact some of you are probably offended at the suggestion. I’m sure there are those out there offended that I would compare a giant commercial endeavor, the behemoth of capitalism itself, to Burning Man. That’s fine. To me, one of the parallel threads of the two events is non-judgement, so maybe keep reading before you write off the notion. After all, there’s two sides to every coin. The commercial capitalists are right now accusing you of being lefty hippie narcissists with nothing better to do than dance in the desert without your clothes on. But of course, you know that’s not a fair assessment. That doesn’t even scratch the surface. So let’s not judge.

I could go to Disneyland pretty much anytime and I can run pretty much anytime, so the technicalities of Half Marathon weekend are not what keep me from choosing it over a week in Black Rock City. What keeps me there are the same things that keep y’all in the desert. Freedom. I started to think about why I would never give up Half Marathon weekend and I started to draw so many parallels between what the weekend in the Land gives me and what Burning Man loyals purport to get from the Playa (you like how I’m using all the terms, even though I’ve never been there? I kinda feel like a tool, but it sounds weird to say Burning Man over and over so I gotta whip out some synonyms). Allow me to draw some for you, parallels that is.

Freedom

The concept that makes it all worthwhile. We really need this. The world is hard and demands a lot of us. There are so many rules. Get a job, eat sensibly, get a good night’s sleep, wear clothes, shave your legs, do your hair, act like an “adult.” I’m just going to go ahead and quote Walt Disney. “That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up.” Being an adult sometimes feels like a terrible idea, and the only way we’re going to survive it is to get some days off once in a while. So here’s what Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend does for me that I think Burning Man must do for many others:

Freedom to be silly

BM 1

Freedom to Challenge Yourself… or Not

From what I understand, about 68,000 people attend Burning Man each year, and there are 68,000 different experiences had. Same is true for Half Marathon weekend. Running is an incredibly independent sport. It’s so independent in fact that I think the reason we do these huge races is to remind us that we’re not the only crazy people in the world who run 13 miles for fun. But the challenges are your own. You’re racing against your own ability and it’s up to you what kind of race you’re going to have. Are you going to push yourself beyond what you’ve ever experienced? Are you going to challenge yourself in new ways to see what you’re made of? Or maybe you’re going to hang back? Maybe this is a race you just want to finish, comfortably. Maybe you’re here more for the fun and solidarity than the personal challenge. Maybe you’re running to work through some shit (we’ve all been there), or maybe you’re running in honor or memory of someone. From what I understand, festival go-ers have this same choice at Burning Man. It can be as weird, fun, spiritual, challenging, crazy, low-key as you want it to be. Some years I run the Half Marathon with hopes for a PR. Others I run just to see the sights, take some pictures with Mickey, and have fun. I appreciate the choice, and that the weekend allows me to have whatever experience I want. Again, freedom. It’s pretty awesome.

Freedom to wear silly costumes

BM 2

Freedom to Relax

Nothing like true R&R!

BM3

Freedom from Judgement

I care what people think of me waaaay too much. Sometimes it keeps me up at night. I have INCREDIBLE anxiety about how I’m perceived. I constantly worry that I’m offending people, letting people down, making a fool of myself, behaving awkwardly, etc. I NEED a weekend completely free from that. I NEED a weekend where I can run through Anaheim dressed up as Donald Duck and not give two-shits what anyone thinks about it. I NEED a weekend where I can run my 12-minute mile and know that no one is judging me for being slow, but on the contrary, CONGRATULATING me. I need a weekend where I can celebrate myself and not apologize for my inclination toward themed entertainment, my slow running pace, my love of wearing costumes, and my love of the Mouse. No one at Dland Half weekend judges me for these things because they are there with me. They have their needs, their reasons they run. No questions asked. We’re all acting like big dorks together. All 20,000 of us. Burning Man too, oui?

Community 

This is a big one. We don’t have enough of it. We live in a global, digital world where our modern sense of community involves:

Like-Finger

I’m not going to spiral off into an analysis of what Facebook is doing to the thread of our society. I just want to say that I think it’s important we still have events where we come together in person, under the same sky, we breathe the same air, we hear the same sounds, and we look each other in the eyes. I believe we are kinder to each other when we can look each other in the eyes. Every year at Half Marathon weekend 5:30 am rolls around on that Sunday morning and Brad and I find our way to our corral. Every year we’re awestruck by the sight of 15,000 people all joining together with a common goal. Every year I get a little misty-eyed when the national anthem is sung and the fireworks go off. Every year I love chatting with the runners around me as we wait to start the race. Is this their first year? It is! They’re nervous. We encourage them. They’re going to do great. Others tell us about all of the races they’ve run so far this year. That this one is their favorite. We pass the time together. We swap running stories. We admire each other’s costumes.

This year I dressed as Donald Duck. As we’re waiting in our corral I notice a few feet behind me a girl dressed as Daisy Duck. We lock eyes and grin from ear to ear. She clearly speaks zero English and I speak zero Japanese. We don’t say anything to each other but manage to decide through eye contact and body language to pose for a picture together. Donald and Daisy. We’re so excited to have found each other. You don’t really get moments like that anywhere else. Well, maybe at Burning Man 😉

BM 6

Community of Support

I’m not sure anything warms my heart more than the sight of the thousands of spectators at the race who have woken up at 6:00 am to come out just to cheer on complete strangers. Cheerleaders from local high schools, dance troupes, school bands, and just average Joe’s line the streets of Anaheim with songs and signs and snacks, WILLING us to succeed. Powerful stuff. From what I understand Burning Man survives on this kind of support. Cooking meals for each other and not for a paycheck. Sharing sunscreen because you’re neighbor ran out and you know what that kind of sunburn feels like. Passing along tips to first-timers. Supporting each other because we’re all in it together, and we expect nothing in return.

Last but certainly not least:

Celebration

It’s easy to forget how much there is to celebrate in life! At Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend we get it all in. We celebrate 12 weeks of hard training paying off. We celebrate another year running together. We celebrate getting closer to Tahiti! We celebrate our first year running the race as an engaged couple (funny thing happens when you get engaged. Every milestone becomes, “this is our first time eating pasta as an engaged couple!” It’s adorable to us and probably sickening to everyone else. Oh well!) We celebrate setting a goal, working towards, and meeting it. More than anything, we celebrate for celebration’s sake. Because life is beautiful, humans have a lot of goodness in them, potential is magic, and it’s important to be joyful. I’ve heard that Burning Man is many things, one of which is a big frickin’ party. Sounds familiar. Dance and be joyful!

Sorry Black Rock City. You do sound awesome and I think you give a lot of goodness to a lot of people, but my “Home” is with the Mouse.

Why draw these parallels? I don’t know. It was interesting to me. Interesting that two events that could be considered polar opposites, in fact have so much in common. How many other opposing forces in our world might share the same traits if we looked a little deeper? Interesting to articulate that I wouldn’t skip out on Disneyland Half weekend for Burning Man not because I think it’s better, but because I think what Burning Man would give, I already got. I think more than anything I wanted to say that I hope you have this in your life. A place, or an event, where you can go every year and feel free. Feel inspired. Feel like a kid. Feel like an adult. Feel like whatever you want to feel like. Sad, depressed, challenged, relaxed, happy, spiritual, enlightened, skeptical, PROUD. Proud to be a runner, proud to be an artist, proud to be in love, proud to be human, proud to accomplish a goal, proud to be a nerd, WHATEVER. You need to find a place where you can feel, just, alive, with no expectations and no conditions. Because we are not our work, we are not our Facebook profile. We are cosmic beings thrown together from the stars on this big rock, trying to figure it all out. The only way we’re going to do that is with a little freedom.

BM 4

BM 5

BM 7

ONE last thing Burning Man and Disneyland Half Marathon have in common: Holy crap are they both expensive to sign up for. Someone asked me recently why I would pay so much money to run when I can get a bunch of friends together and run on the weekend for free. Probably the same reason all those Burners pay so much money for a week at the festival when they can just as easily get a bunch of friends together and go camping in the desert for free. Because getting some friends together and running/camping for free is not the same. Some things are just worth it. What makes it worth it? Well, everything I’ve tried to articulate in this article which may or may not have resonated with you. But maybe my friend from 6 years ago was right. Maybe despite my attempt to do so with this lengthy post, maybe you just can’t put the “why” into words. I can’t REALLY make you understand what it feels like to run 13 miles until you do it. Just like I can’t REALLY understand what it feels like to run 26.2 until I do it. Which is why I’m going to. In my search to understand Burning Man, I didn’t actually go, and I’ll probably never truly get it, not all of it. But I’m good. I have my little community of running Disney nerds who make me feel free for three days every first weekend in September. I’m good.

your half-marathon must haves, a checklist

The date is fast-approaching! There are about 15,000 runners out there who in just 12 days will be gearing up to run a half marathon!  I’m no pro, and I don’t have a degree in physical therapy or any professional experience with athletics, so I rarely feel like I can give proper advice about things like injuries or technique. I’m just a girl who’s been running for 15 years, some years more robustly than others, and the only advice I have to offer is what has worked for me. It may work for some, won’t work for others. Every runner is different! Today I offer such advice as you prep and pack for your trip to Disneyland! I’d like to share with you some of my must-have items for Disneyland Half Marathon weekend. This checklist should apply to any half-marathon really. I’m sure you’ll be able to pick out the Disney specific items 🙂 (e.g. you probably don’t need to bring your Mickey Mouse Ears to the ING NYC Marathon).

Let’s start from head to toe:

1.  Hats! I never know when sunglasses are going to give me a headache, so it’s best to have a hat to keep the sun out of my eyes. My runDisney hats are my favorite of course:

running hat from 2013 Tinkerbell Half Marathon

running hat from 2013 Tinkerbell Half Marathon

You’ll want a hat that’s lightweight and has some mesh along the sides that breathe.  Case in point, don’t just go running a half marathon in a regular old baseball hat. After a while you’ll start to feel like you’ve got a winter cap on your head! Visors are a great option because they don’t trap the heat (heat escapes from the top of your head so hats can be tricky on a really hot day). Visors aren’t so much my style but I could learn to embrace them. Maybe they’ll have some at the Health & Fitness Expo!

2. Sweaty Bands. I loooove sweaty bands! I first discovered them at the Dland Half Health & Fitness Expo a couple of years ago and they’re kind of like magic. If you don’t need or want to wear a hat or visor but still want to keep your hair out of your face, you must invest in some Sweaty Bands. They are basically just headbands but the underside is made of this magic velvety material and they DO. NOT. SLIP. I wore one last year when I ran as Alice in Wonderland and the thing didn’t budge once. Nor did it squeeze my head or bother me in any way. Love these things!

proud with our medals

black sparkly Sweaty Band

sweaty-bands3. Hair Ties. This one is for the long-haired ladies and gents. The first year I ran the Disneyland Half Marathon I completely forgot to bring hair ties! You probably wouldn’t make the same glaring oversight but I wanted to mention it juuuuust in case. I was scrambling at 10 pm the night before the race trying to find some hair elastics!

4. Sunglasses. This one is particularly important for the Disneyland Half Marathon. The way the course is laid out, you exit the parks and run east into Anaheim RIGHT as the sun is coming up. The timing is worse depending on what corral you’re in and what time you actually start the race, but for MOST runners you’re going to get stuck right in the eye line of a rising sun. The first year I ran I had to borrow Brad’s sunglasses for this portion. My eyes are super sensitive and his aren’t so much, so he took pity on me. One year we ran the race it was really overcast for most of the morning (as it often is in SoCal) and it wasn’t as much of a problem, but you just never know so it’s better to be safe than sorry. You want to be sure and get athletic sunglasses specifically, and test them out on a run beforehand. A lot of glasses will bounce on your face or fog up when you run and trust me, both are very annoying. Find a pair that work with your stride. Sunglasses.

check

check

5. Sunscreen. Speaking of protection from those UV rays, don’t forget to lay on some sunscreen. You’ll be outside running for 3+ hours. Skin cancer is bad! Brad and I really like the Neutrogena sunscreen shown below. There is nothing worse than sweating sunscreen into your eyes during a run (ouch that burns!) and this one doesn’t seem to do that. It works for us. Also, here’s a pro-tip for you: don’t be fooled by a high SPF number. Anything over 30, i.e. SPF 50, 75, 85, is negligible and is just a marketing ploy put in place by manufacturers to get you to buy their product and charge you more. True story. You’re good with SPF 30. Also make sure to get a broad spectrum sunscreen which blocks both UVA and UVB rays. That is much more important than a high SPF.

neutrogena-ultimate-sport-lotion-sunscreen-broad-spectrum-spf-30

6. Chapstick. I hate running with chapped lips! It makes me feel like I’m running through a desert and desperate for water. I’m usually fine if I put some on before the run. I don’t need to bring it in my fuel belt; but if you’re particularly prone to chapped lips, go ahead and bring a stick on the run.

7. Vaseline. Chafing is no joke people. This is an important one you don’t want to forget! Weak spots for ladies tend to be under the ta-tas right where your sports bra sits. Men, it’s more so on the nips. I personally also get chafing spots on my tricep area, which I’m sure means I need to work a little harder to get rid of those chicken cutlets I’ve got dangling (we can’t all be Michelle Obama!). A lot of people buy fancy athletic anti-chafing stuff like Body Glide, but I’ve never tried it. I’ve heard mixed reviews so I’ve never sprung the extra dough for it. There are a lot of options out there. This article from an ultra-runner gives a great breakdown of different products you can try. You have to see what works for you. Me, I use Vaseline. Works like a charm. I don’t love the idea of smothering petroleum all over my breast area but it’s better than chafing. A lot of people don’t like to use Vaseline because they say it stains their clothes. I guess it depends where you need to apply it. So far I haven’t noticed any staining on my sports bras or running shirts, so I’m going to stick with Vaseline. It’s cheap and easy to find.

8. Clothes! An obvious and very important item. You may be so excited to prep and pack your awesome running costume that you completely forget to pack the athletic clothing that goes with it. Also make sure you bring running clothes that you know don’t bother you. For example I have a couple of sports bras that are way more comfortable than others so I’m going to be sure that they are laundered and ready to be packed. Plan ahead. You’re going to want your most comfortable sports bras, undies, socks, etc. I also like to bring a spare of most things. You just never know! Don’t forget to also pack a swimsuit so you can luxuriate by the pool after your race!

Relaxing at the Grand Californian pool after our 1st half marathon

Relaxing at the Grand Californian pool after our 1st half marathon

The good news is that if you forget anything, there is a Target right down the street from Disneyland so you can pick up pretty much any clothing item you may need.

9. Fuel Belt. Everyone requires different amounts of water at different times on a long race, but I’m just going to tell you from my personal experience, I really don’t think you need to bring water on your fuel belt. RunDisney races are so well fueled. I’ve never ever been thirsty. Every time I feel like I really want a drink of water, there’s a water station right around the corner. Also, through the parks you will run past several water fountains. Water on my belt weighs me down and slows me down. I only wear it when I absolutely have to, like times that I know there won’t be a lot of water along my route. All that being said, I do still wear a belt, just minus the water, and I’d recommend you wear one too. It’s a must for holding various things you probably will need like an iPod, phone, earbuds, ID, gels, etc. The hard part is trying to find one that will match your running costume 😉

10. Phone/Camera. You will most likely want to snap at least a few pics along the course. Especially if it’s your first runDisney race! The parks look so lovely with all of the runners racing through, and they have so much entertainment along the course. Even the city of Anaheim provides a lot of great entertainment throughout the city. I just bring my phone which doubles as my music and camera. It’d be a bit much to have an iPod and a camera, though there are those who do it. Snapping pics with your phone will drain the battery faster, so there’s that.

11. Earbuds. You’ll be so sad to reach for your iPod to start your kick-ass running playlist only to discover you forgot your headphones. Wah wah waahhh. My absolute favorite brand is Yurbuds. I have been on a quest for YEARS to find earbuds that don’t fall out when I run. Never really found a winning pair, until now. I’ve been wearing my pink Yurbuds for a year and they have never ever fallen out while running. Not even once. They are awesome.

Yurbuds-Ironman-Series-Pink-HSDyurbuds1

12. Compression socks/sleeves. I really love to wear compression socks on a long run. I don’t know if it’s in my head, but I feel like I recover much quicker when I run long with compression socks. Pro Compression socks are nice. They’ll also have a good selection at the Health & Fitness Expo if you want to wait and buy some when you get there.

pro-compression-purplehigh-compression-socks-from-pro-compression

13. Shoes! It would be pretty silly to forget your running shoes on your trip to a race, but I’m sure it’s happened! And you know what, it’s totally something I would do. I haven’t yet, but there’s a first time for everything. So I’m saying it here, don’t forget your shoes! And make sure you bring a pair that you’ve already broken in. You may be tempted to buy a brand new glistening pair of sneaks to commemorate your half marathon, but you do NOT want to run 13.1 miles in new shoes. Blisters! You’ve got to give yourself a few weeks to break in those puppies. Make sure to pack your race shoes, as well as whatever shoes you’re going to wear AFTER the race and in the parks. Your feet might be pretty swollen from running 13.1 miles so you might want to bring some comfortable walking sandals to wear on the following days. Give those ol’ dogs a chance to get back to their normal size 🙂

14. Running Fuel. You’ll get a Clif Shot, which is basically Gu, at mile 9, but if you’re like me and the mere sound of the word Gu makes your stomach turn, you’ll need to bring your own fuel. At Jeff Galloway’s suggestion, I use gummy bears! They work like a charm. Recently I tried a Honey Stinger Waffle on a 12 mile run and it was actually quite delicious and didn’t upset my stomach, so I recommend those as well. You can also try Clif Shot Blocks. They are nowhere near as gross as Gu, but they still provide replenishing electrolytes. Sometimes I’ll have one or two of these on a long run and they don’t bother my tummy too much.

7dad728e-4815-49bc-8f94-0c748f247cd5clifbar_shotblock_group2gummy_bears

15. First Aid. Hopefully you won’t really need any first aid from running your half marathon but you might get a blister or two and it’s almost guaranteed you’ll be sore. Really smart to bring the essentials: band-aids, ibuprofen (or whatever pain reliever you prefer), antibacterial wipes. If you want to get more advanced, throw in an ACE bandage, some neosporin, an ice pack, or even some biofreeze. If you’re struggling with a running injury, I HIGHLY recommend you get some KT Tape for the run. It’s kind of like magic. They’ll have a booth at the Health & Fitness Expo and you can have one of their reps apply it for you. In short, it’s a very flexible synthetic tape that works optimally with your body movement. As you move, the tape lifts your skin away from your muscle allowing for more flexibility and circulation to the injured area, while also providing support without constricting movement. It kind of helps your body heal itself.  You remember Kerri Walsh in the Summer Olympics:

the-kt-tape-story

15. Park stuff. Are you going into the parks after your race?? I hope so! The best part is parading around in your awesome runDisney bling and/or race shirt so all of the cast members and guests can say congratulations to you! Also, Disneyland, duh. You didn’t travel all this way to run past Radiator Springs Racers but not RIDE it! So make sure to pack your park stuff. Comfy walking clothes, shoes, hats, and a backpack or fanny pack or comfortable bag you don’t mind lugging around all day. And of course, don’t forget your Mickey Mouse ears!

In review, here is your list:

  • Hat/Visor
  • Sweaty Bands or other headband to keep hair out of your face
  • Hair elastics (for the long-haired runners)
  • Running Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick
  • Vaseline or other anti-chafing gel
  • Running clothes: your most comfy
  • Swimsuit
  • Running belt
  • Phone and/or Camera and/or iPod
  • Earbuds/headphones
  • Compression socks
  • Broken in running shoes
  • Extra socks, undies, sports bras
  • Walking sandals
  • Running fuel: Gu, sport beans, gummy bears, Clif Shot Bloks, etc.
  • First Aid: band-aids, pain relievers, antibacterial wipes
  • Park gear: backpack, Mickey Ears, comfy walking clothes, etc.

There you have it. Your basic checklist of things to pack for the Disneyland Half Marathon. Did I forget anything? Add on to the list by commenting below. Help other runners prepare for this awesome weekend!